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story.lead_photo.caption In this photo legislators including Rep. Robin Lundstrum (bottom, center), R-Elm Springs, are shown in the House chamber. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

Bills that would exempt small businesses and teenagers from the minimum-wage law passed by voters in November cleared a House committee on Tuesday evening.

House Bill 1752, sponsored by Rep. Robin Lundstrum, R-Elm Springs, would exempt businesses with fewer than 25 employees from the wage law starting next year.

Nonprofit "developmental service providers" and nonprofit organizations with annual budgets of less than $1 million would also be exempt.

House Bill 1753, also sponsored by Lundstrum, would exempt workers ages 16-19.

Lundstrum said the voter-approved law will pose a challenge for small businesses next year, when the minimum wage is scheduled to rise from $9.25 per hour to $10 per hour.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

The wage will then go up to $11 in 2021.

Competition will eventually cause the businesses to have to raise their wages anyway, she said, but her proposal would allow them to "catch their breath."

She also said she's worried about teenagers not being able to get jobs as the state minimum wage increases.

In response to a question from Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith, she said she didn't think her bill would cause employers to hire teenagers instead of older workers.

Lundstrum told the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor that HB1752 would keep the minimum wage for the small businesses at $9.25 per hour.

But David Couch, the attorney who led the petition drive for the minimum-wage measure, said after the meeting that that's not true.

As the bill is currently written, it would exempt the businesses from the state minimum wage entirely starting next year, meaning they would only be subject to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, he said.

That would exempt those businesses from not only the increase passed in 2018, but also the increase passed by voters in 2014 that eventually raised the state minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour.

"That rolls back two elections," he said.

He added that making it easier for teenagers to get jobs would create more incentive for them to drop out of school.

"We had this same argument during the campaign, and voters rejected that," Couch said.

The committee advanced both bills to the full House in divided voice votes.

Arkansas' current minimum wage already excludes employers with fewer than four workers. Those employers are still subject to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Hindsville, has also filed a bill that would create exceptions to the initiated act.

Senate Bill 115 remained listed as being on deferred status on the agenda of the Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor on Tuesday.

A Section on 03/13/2019

Print Headline: 2 minimum-wage exemption bills advanced by House committee


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  • tweedyboy57
    March 13, 2019 at 9:02 a.m.

    More GOP Breaking Democracy. The PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN. Its Time for Businesses to Pay a FAIR WAGE. YOU GO TRY TO LIVE ON $7.25 an hour. DAMN Them.

  • RBear
    March 13, 2019 at 9:07 a.m.

    These two Republican legislators just don't believe the voters really should have a say in the matter. The exemptions make no sense and are attempts to subvert the will of the voter who clearly indicated they wanted the minimum wage increased. If voters had reservations, it would not have passed with such large margins.
    These two are some of the worst Republicans in the AR legislature.

  • mrcharles
    March 13, 2019 at 9:31 a.m.

    yes the electorate spoketh. yet we know the gop was elected to be our conscience and guidance , as the aristocracy was put here to make our life more orderly under wisdom that they only have. In between gerrymandering, voting restrictions, imposing a divine right of kings mentality, and the protection of white people, they are ever devious with their propaganda machine, ADG with fox playing in the back ground to do their mind control of the lemmings of hate and distrust and entitlement to be able to discriminate and feel good about it.

    I assume even some on the right voted for this increase in minimum wage, but the Elites being divinely inspired , think otherwise. Surely some on the right is upset with their wishes being circumvented.

  • B2R
    March 13, 2019 at 9:56 a.m.

    But it's perfectly ok for taxpayers to pay per diem and mileage to lundstrum and ballinger to usurp the will of the people. Good gig if you can get it...

  • Knuckleball1
    March 13, 2019 at 10:18 a.m.

    The Voters Have Spoken, but these 2 Want-A-Be Gods know better than the lowly voter in the State of Arkansas. They think they are protecting jobs, but as normal the Crooks and Thieves most likely have their hands out collecting funds to push this legislation...

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    March 13, 2019 at 11:04 a.m.

    call it what it is.

  • GeneralMac
    March 13, 2019 at 11:27 a.m.

    TWEEDYBOY..........(what an appropriate name for one so naive)

    minimum wage was not meant to be a "living wage"

  • LRCrookAtty
    March 13, 2019 at 11:41 a.m.

    Tweedy..."...YOU GO TRY TO LIVE ON $7.25..."
    First of all, my 16 year old son is pi$$ed. Secondly, this only effects people that should not or do not need to "survive" on minimum wage. Of course lazy people of Arkansas that do not attempt to try and move through the system would vote a higher wage for themselves. Since everyone on the left posting thinks voting a minimum wage increase should be up to the people getting those increases, let's see how many change their minds in the following scenarios: 1. General Assembly of Arkansas votes their own increased wages and it takes effect immediately; 2. The Gov. and Lt. Gov. votes their own increases and it takes effect immediately; and 3. Every employee working for you votes to increase their wages and it takes effect immediately.

  • LRCrookAtty
    March 13, 2019 at 11:42 a.m.

    Tweedy..."...the will of the voter who clearly indicated they wanted the minimum wage increased."
    Of course, see my other post. Wouldn't you like to vote yourself an annual increase in your wages?

  • seitan
    March 13, 2019 at 12:36 p.m.

    Why do Arkansas Republicans hate Arkansas voters so much?